HBP Part 7.2. Authority to Obligate

Handbook of Business Procedures

Date published: January 20, 2012
Last revised: May 23, 2024
Issued by: Purchasing


A. Introduction

Authority to obligate institutional funds of The University of Texas at Austin for purchases of supplies, materials, services, and equipment is granted to the Purchasing Office by the president pursuant to authority granted in accordance with The University of Texas System Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents, Rule 10501: Delegation to Act on Behalf of the Board. The UT System Administration Policy Library – Policy UTS159: Purchasing authorizes the primary procurement officer to publish procedures to facilitate and expedite the purchasing function.

B. Delegated Purchasing Authority

To expedite purchasing functions, university business officers are authorized by the university to approve small purchase orders up to $15,000. With this authorization comes the responsibility of business officers to comply with UT System’s Ethics, all established purchasing policies of The University of Texas at Austin, established purchasing program procedures, and any other requirements as determined by the primary procurement officer. Procedural and policy violations may result in removal of privileges at the discretion of the university’s vice president and chief financial officer.

The following rules govern university purchases:

  • Staff members of the Purchasing Office cannot release a purchase order to a supplier either verbally or in writing that exceeds his or her release authority until the order is reviewed and approved by personnel who have authority at that level of commitment.
  • Purchase orders must be issued prior to the shipment of a product or the delivery of a service. Suppliers are not authorized to commence work prior to the receipt of an authorized purchase order. Invoices for goods or services provided without an authorized purchase order require management review and approval prior to payment. The university is not obligated to pay invoices for goods and services that have not been properly authorized.
  • The Purchasing Office is responsible for approving any purchase requests that exceed $15,000.

C. Authorized Purchasing Methods

Purchase of goods and services requires the issuance of a purchase order, the issuance of a contract, or the use of a procurement card (Procard). Purchases for the university made by faculty, staff, and students using personal funds are not authorized and will only be reimbursed as an exception. For information about the following topics, see the appropriate section of the Handbook of Business Procedures:

D. Noncompliant Purchases

Invoices for purchases made without using an authorized purchasing method require justification and approval. The respective department's CSU Business Officer or designee (CUBO member) shall approve requests up to the small purchase limit of $15,000. 

Requests greater than $15,000 shall be routed to the Central Procurement Office for approval. 

The justification from the department’s administrative officer must include:

  • Documentation of the reason for the noncompliant purchase
  • Name and title of the individual responsible for the purchase
  • Amount of purchase
  • Signed statement declaring that the individual involved has been informed of the proper purchasing procedure
  • Agreement that future purchases will be made in accordance with purchasing procedures. 

Note: Future or repeated noncompliant purchase requests may be refused.

E. Authority to Sign Contracts

The president of the university has delegated contract signing authority to the Business Contracts Office within the Office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. For information regarding contracts and additional delegation of authority related to contracts, contact Business Contracts.

F. Authority to Sign Software License Agreements

The president of the university has delegated authority to sign software license agreements to the Business Contracts Office. Software licenses and subsequent renewals should be placed on purchase orders. Terms and conditions of software license agreements are reviewed, negotiated, and approved by the Business Contracts Office.

G. Authority to Sign Equipment Maintenance Agreements

Equipment maintenance agreements are typically a part of the equipment purchase. The Purchasing Office is authorized to sign equipment maintenance agreements and renewals. Purchasing staff members are authorized to sign up to the dollar amount of their individual levels of authorization.



Part 7. Purchasing - Table of Contents